Seminar 1 Changing spaces, urban planning and neuroarchitecture (24th March 2014)
This seminar focuses on building a contemporary and critical understanding of the relationship between space and behaviour. Seeking to avoid the past mistakes of a now- discredited behavioural geography and overcoming some of the blind spots of environmental psychology, this theme considers how best to conceptualise the spatial framing of human behaviours without unwittingly reviving the spectre of environmental determinism.
It has been argued that recent developments in applying neuroscience within architecture/urban design revisit behaviouralist missteps, and these will be considered in light of debates from within human geography on obesogenic and debtogenic environments, fitter and healthier cities, crime-reduction through design and the impact of urban form on cultures of drinking, conviviality, fear, surveillance, sustainability and resilience.
Seminar 2 Psychological resilience. Governing the brain, mind and behaviour (23rd June 2014)
This seminar highlights the range of psychological approaches which have influenced contemporary public policy making in different national contexts, exploring how and why it is that particular psychological insights are used and taken up by specific governments.
Participants will showcase initiatives, policies and projects which make use of: positive psychology, flourishing, nudge, the science of happiness, wellbeing, mindfulness, neural plasticity, socio-psychological resilience. The seminar critically interrogates the political claims made in the name of broadly positive psychology; claims revolving around a discourse of hope and potential. Participants will consider what kinds of psychological and behavioural realities are omitted from these accounts.
Seminar 3 Re-Theorising ‘Behaviour Change’ (15th and 16th December 2014)
The debate on behaviour change has been dominated by the paradigms of behavioural economics on the one hand, and neurological science on the other. This seminar will explore alternative ways of conceptualising and explaining behaviour change and related forms of psychological governance, with a particular focus on the possibilities and pitfalls of materialist accounts of human and more-than-human action. What alternatives are emerging for understanding the relations between brain, mind, behaviour and self? What new vocabularies might disrupt those now settled starting points (‘self’ etc) and provide new ways of understanding how change happens in and through the psychological?
The seminar will bring into dialogue a set of partially connected approaches that think differently about how change happens in a complex world, a world in which what counts as the ‘psychological’ is always entangled with multiple objects and forces. These approaches include: object-oriented ontology; non-representational theories concerned with the dynamics of embodied practice; experimental entanglements between social sciences and neurosciences; and non-foundational social psychology.
Seminar 4 Silver Bullets Need a Careful Aim. Dilemmas in Applying Behavioural Insights 11th May 2015 RSA, London
This seminar is hosted by Collaborative Change social enterprise and will take place in London at the RSA. The seminar examines the potential applications of critical theoretical insights developed throughout the earlier seminars.
Behavioural Economics has become the flavour du jour of UK government policy. However, realising its true potential will depend on a more sober, critical appraisal of its application.
This seminar will explore ethical tensions implicit in many BE approaches and the potential for negative unintended consequences. In particular, whether behaviour change brought about through ‘designed contexts’ (‘Nudging’) disempowers citizens by bypassing the conscious agent.
Seminar 5 Postgraduate and Early Career Summer School 15th September 2015 University of Aberystwyth
Early career researchers and postgraduate students will be invited to take part in the 6 seminars, in addition to this 2 day summer school for postgraduates. The seminar organisers and keynote speakers will provide workshop activities which will enable participants to re-examine their own research projects in light of some of the seminar themes. There will be career development activities and networking opportunities.
Seminar 6 The Politics and Economics of Attention 14th December 2015 University of Bristol
This seminar considers the geographical dimensions of ‘attentional landscapes’, by elaborating on the scale and scope of perceptual environments and considering how these have come to be measured, monitored and managed. How can critiques of the attentional logics of cognitive capitalism be brought into productive dialogue with contemporary pscyho-economic accounts of cognitive scarcity and the uneven spatial contexts in which people perceive, interpret and (inter)act? What would a critical psychological geography of the politics and economics of attention look like?